Nigeria: Govt to Fix Roads for Christmas

27 November 2019

Abuja — The federal government has set aside N36.565,012,899.66 for the rehabilitation of 123 roads across the 36 states of the federation under its post-rainy season programme designed to ease travel difficulties during the Christmas and New Year festivities, THISDAY's investigation has revealed.

Details of the 123 roads are contained in a document prepared by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, which forms the action plan to fix failed portions of federal highways and major arterial roads in view of the impending Yuletide.

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has also embarked on a road safety audit, which established the portions of federal roads that are to be fixed as Christmas and New Year festivities approach.

This is coming as the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) has raised the alarm over the bad state of roads across the country.

THISDAY investigations revealed that on a geopolitical basis, a breakdown of the 123 roads billed for rehabilitation or already undergoing repairs by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and contractors are North-west (11), North-east (15), North-central (16), South-east (14), South-south (16) and South-west (51).

It was gathered that the failed portions of roads with subsisting contractors will be fixed by such contractors, while FERMA handles those which currently have no ongoing contracts.

Various sums of money allocated to rehabilitate roads in each of the geopolitical zones, according to THISDAY's findings, include: North-central, N6,817,528,88.53; North-east, N4,406,323,657.02; North-west, N3,889,851,676.22; South-east, N6,326,179,112.19; South-south, N5,963,783,102.40 and South-west, N9,161,347,463.30.

Some of the roads earmarked for rehabilitation in the North-central zone are the Makurdi-Alaide road; Okene-Ajaokuta-Itobe road (Geregu Power Plant and Interchange to Itobe bridge) and Lokoja Shintaku-Dekina-Ayingba road (Lokoja-Geregu-Ganaja route 45).

Others are Abuja-Kaduna road at Km 4,5, 15, 16,18 and 30; Shendam-Plateau State border road in Nasarawa and Keffi-Gitata Kaduna State border, Abuja-Lokoja/Zaria at Geregu, and Kotangora-Minna-Dikko, among others.

In the North-east, some of the roads include, Numan-Jalingo, Yola-Hong-Mubi, Damaturu-Maiduguri, Gombe-Biu, Bauchi-Gombe State border, Jalingo-Wukari, Wukari-Benue, Damaturu-Dapchi-Bayamari and Potiskum-Ngalda-Gombe, among others.

Also pencilled in for repairs in the North-West are the Dan Gwuro at Km10+859 along Kano-Zaria road, Eastern bypass Phases 1&11 road in Kano; Kano-Gwarzo-Katsina State-Dayi road, Sokoto-Goronyo -Dam site road-SabonBirni-Niger Republic road (route A32), and Zaria-Funtua road, among others.

In the South-south, roads billed for rehabilitation are Auchi-Igarra-Ibillo, Delta-Abraka-Agbor highway, Agbor-Asaba Expressway-Alifekede, Benin-Asaba, Ogoono Bridge along Auchi-Okpella route, Ore-Benin road at KM 9-5 from Ofosu Bridge, Benin-Sapele, Ahoada-Omoku, Calabar-Old Odukpani-Ebrukutu Route No F-108 and Route No 90 9A4-2),and Ikot-Ekpene-Ikot Umuessien -Aba road, among others.

The roads to be repaired in South-east are: Onitsha-Owerri dual carriageway (Onitsha, Mgbido and Owerri bound), Enugu-Owerri road; 9th Mile-Orokam Road- 9th Mile interchange-Orokam Benue State boundary.

Billed for repairs in the South-west are Ibadan-Ogbomosho, Ogbomosho- Ilorin, Oyo-Ogbomosho old road, Oyo-Ogbomosho old road, Ibadan-Gbogan road, Shagamu-Mowe-Lagos road and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, among others.

However, in a move to fast-track the roads rehabilitation and ease pressure on commuters across the country, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, last weekend rallied stakeholders into action for the annual 'Ember months'.

At a meeting in Abuja with the FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, representatives of FERMA, government contractors and the Federal Controllers of Works from the states in attendance, Fashola directed the contractors handling the various roads to remobilise to sites for special works, promising that they would receive payment before the end of the year.

The minister, according to a statement by his media adviser, Mr. Hakeem Bello, said it was expedient for the major stakeholders in the road sector to brainstorm over the issue of smooth travel experience for commuters as the Christmas and New Year festivities were around the corner, adding that there was the need to ensure safety for those travelling by road across the country.

He said the ministry started preparing for the rainy season early in the year before the exit of the last administration, adding that inspections carried out around March and April revealed rise in water levels in some areas, failures of portions of the roads, washouts and other damages on the roads.

Noting that the major challenge on the roads during the dry seasons is the spiral increase in the volume of vehicular traffic, he said the increase was most pronounced at the approach of Christmas and the New Year when people travel for family reunions, wedding ceremonies, business transactions and other activities.

The minister said the meeting with the major stakeholders was aimed at building a synergy among them, stressing that with the gradual rounding off of the rainy season and the onset of dry weather, contractors would return to sites to stabilise such portions while FERMA would also escalate action in providing palliatives to damaged areas.

Fashola said the presence of the Corps Marshal of the FRSC at the meeting was to brief participants on the portions of the roads on need of urgent attention based on a road safety audit it conducted, while FERMA would also make a presentation on its strategies to achieve smooth travel experience during the EMBER months.

The contractors, he stressed, were expected to take note of such briefs for immediate response.

Giving an overview of the audit report compiled by his commission about the conditions of certain portions of the roads that need urgent attention across the country, Oyeyemi said the audit was necessary to evolve strategies to ensure that the heavy movement of citizens usually associated with the end of the year did not lead to road traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities.

According to the FRSC boss, "In line with this, 2019 Operation Zero was initiated to vigorously enforce road traffic rules and educate road users while embarking on strategic engineering to reduce road traffic crashes on Nigerian roads", adding that as a build-up to previous engagements on road audit and implementation of agreed recommendations, a survey of critical corridors was made nationwide to identify areas in urgent need of attention."

He added that road traffic management during festive periods deserve adequate attention as Nigerians across board are always on the road for business, pleasure and celebration while the repairs of the identified bad parts on the major corridors would go a long way to aid smooth vehicular movement during the festive period and consequently reduce injuries and fatality on Nigerian roads.

The corps marshal, who urged commuters to obey traffic rules and signs, especially on roads under construction or rehabilitation, in order to achieve sanity on the roads, however, warned that the FRSC would enforce the law on the roads during the period.

He added that the corps would soon embark on mass enlightenment of the public before enforcing the law.

Others who spoke at the meeting included the controllers, who gave account of the roads under their jurisdictions, a representative of FERMA who briefed on the strategy of the agency to contribute to smooth travel experience during the festive season as well as the contractors who pledged their willingness to return to their project sites.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Works has said it is interfacing with the Ministry of Works and Housing to ensure that the roads are fixed so Nigerians can enjoy smooth ride during the Yuletide season.

Deputy Chairman of the committee, Hon. Wale Edun, in an interview with THISDAY, said: "We are interfacing with the ministry on the matter to ensure a near smooth ride during the season."

Also, the General Manager, Administration, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Atiku Zailani Ahmed, raised the alarm on the state of Nigerian roads, saying that "as owners of vehicles in Nigeria, mostly commercial vehicles, we are concerned about the roads because that is actually the infrastructure that we use to run our business."

He noted that bad roads have been a persistent problem.

"It is not a creation of any government or the other. It is something that has been on for a very long time and it will take a while before we are able to fix," he said, regretting that road maintenance culture was the bane.

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